Grade seven students from Myrtle Philip Community School filled the Village with Olympic spirit on Friday (Feb. 7) as part of the school’s own opening ceremonies to celebrate the Winter Games.
With five alumni competing in Sochi — including Yuki Tsubota, Mercedes Nicoll, Morgan Pridy, Mike Janyk and Marielle Thompson — the school decided to hold its own version of the Olympics, dubbed the “Snow-Chi Games,” beginning with a torch relay.
“(The events) are to inspire the kids and bring back that joy and patriotism we had a four years ago,” said teacher Lisa Smart, who helped organize the relay. “Another reason was at Myrtle Philip, we have 250 kids and we have five alumni at these Games alone. It’s a chance for us to show our support for those Olympians.”
The group gathered at the base of Whistler Mountain decked out in their finest red and white and waited for Eddie Hicks, national freestyle ski team member, to careen down with an Olympic torch in hand. When he arrived, he handed them the torch (borrowed from the school’s library) and they held a relay back to the school. The rest of the school’s students lined up along the route to cheer them on.
Throughout the Games, the school will take part in various student-organized activities — from a hockey tournament to a crazy carpet luge course and biathlon.
“It’s amazing to think that five of the athletes at the Olympics right now are alumni of Myrtle Philip Community School,” said principal Jeff Maynard. “It’s got to be some kind of Olympic record. It’s pretty remarkable and the kids have a lot of connection… There’s a lot of spirit here for the Games and a lot of excitement about that. It’s such a great opportunity to talk about unity and pulling together and what the Olympics really stand for.”
To that end, the school’s opening ceremonies included an inspirational talk from Nicoll’s mom, Alix, who chronicled her daughter’s journey to the Games. “Some of the elementary school kids probably don’t remember 2010,” she said, before speaking to the school. “They were really tiny and not involved at all. This brings the whole spirit back.”
Her husband, John, agreed. “It’s great for the kids to get involved and get in the spirit of things,” he said. “(The relay) was just wonderful. Look at how happy they all were. It’s something they’ll remember forever.”
Meanwhile, the official opening ceremonies in Sochi drew a small crowd to Whistler Olympic Plaza where a screen broadcasting the Games will be set up throughout the Olympics. While around 60 people braved freezing temperatures around 8:30 a.m. to watch the spectacle unfold, only a handful remained later that morning, including Laura Beamish.
“We actually thought there would be more people here,” she said, decked out in a red toque and mittens with “Canada” emblazoned on them. “We wanted to come out and catch the vibe. It’s probably (empty) because it’s so cold.”
She and Peter Vooys, who wore a matching toque and mittens, which his mom mailed to the pair, said they plan to come back to catch more of the Games with other Whistlerites. “It’s an awesome idea,” Beamish said. “We don’t actually have a TV at home, so it’s a nice excuse for us to get out of the house and go watch events with other people around.”